Woodturning Inside Out Open End Christmas Ornament With LED

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Inside out Christmas ornaments are a challenge for me. The profile of the inside turning is difficult to visualize. The turning often results in thin sections with fragile short grain. The resulting slats are wickedly knife sharp.

Yet, these ornaments are a great project with a fantastic unique look. After a recent article in American Woodturner, I decided to try an inside out turning with an open end. It should not be that hard can it be? Well, to complicate things, I incorporated a battery operated LED tea light into the inside. My design concept was to insert the tea light up through the open bottom into a narrow section of the wood. The tea light flame would show through the side slats. The tea light would be supported by a thin platform indexed by a small bump on the inner profile. To make insertion easier and for further decoration, the platform would incorporate a finial to complete the ornament. The wood slats would flex enough to insert the tea light and platform.

The first version broke when I attempted to drill into the center. I had thought that a drill would match the tealight. When that did not work, I decided to turn that section as part of the inside turning despite the fact that the curves would be opposite the tea light profile.

Another issue arising was the very thin sections at the top. On other ornaments, I’ve had small joints separate. Instead of turning the top portion into a top finial, I chose to turn down the top to a tenon. Normally that would be okay except that the small 3/8″ tenon was actually, four pieces of wood about 3/16″ thick with a weak joint between them. This is where the ornament broke before I could insert the tenon into a mortise in a top finial.

This complicated the top finial. I recessed the mortise into a small hollow in the bottom of the finial to cover and retain the tops of the slats. To reinforce the joint, I turned a small ball to fit inside the slat tops. This I glued with CA glue.

This inside out concept turned out quite nice. It is a rather large ornament. I’d like to make it smaller, to improve the tea light and platform positioning, and avoid the slats breaking. I’ll work on that in the next version while I enjoy this one. :)


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